- Reef Kitchens is seeking an ownership stake in 800 Degrees Go, a joint venture between restaurant chain 800 Degrees and robotics company Piestro, 800 Degrees Go announced Thursday. Reef will also open 500 800 Degrees Go locations through 2027, and Kenneth Rourke, Reef's EVP of kitchens and brands, has joined 800 Degrees Go's board.
- 800 Degrees Go already operates out of 40 Reef locations in 13 markets, and expects to open100 more units this year, according to the release.
- Reef initially announced a deal with 800 Degrees eight months ago to operate 500 mobile units by 2026. These plans and Reef's current deal with 800 Degrees Go are one and the same, 800 Degrees CEO Tommy Lee wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive.
Reef's desired ownership stake is tied directly to the expansion and performance of 800 Degrees Go within Reef's system, according to the press release. The pizza concept is targeting $19 million in annual sales by the start of 2023, and wants to reach $160 million in sales within five years, excluding sales from its robotic pizza machines produced by Piestro.
Rourke will not have a specific role on the board, Lee said. Rourke's experience and role at Reef will facilitate 800 Degrees Go's non-traditional growth, Lee said, but did not comment further on specifics of Rourke's position.
“[Rourke's] work with REEF brings additional insight and knowledge regarding the growth of the ghost kitchen network and the unique opportunities within off-premise, non-traditional restaurant growth," Lee wrote.
A close relationship with Reef is part of the brand's overall growth strategy, Lee said.
"800 Degrees Go's strategy is to grow the brand through each of its [three] distribution channels. First with ghost kitchens through the partnership with REEF, then with the new brick and mortar prototype... to support the addition of the 800 Degrees Go by Piestro robotic pods," Lee wrote.
While the press release states 800 Degrees Go pizzas are served by Reef in 13 markets, Reef said its operations with the pizza brand were currently live in 10 U.S. markets. 800 Degrees Go listed in an email 11 operational U.S. markets, a U.S. market where operations are currently paused, and the United Arab Emirates as its operating locations. A sovereign wealth fund of the U.A.E., Mubadala, is one of Reef's major investors.
Reef has signed a series of major expansion deals over the last year, pledging to grow its network of delivery-oriented mobile kitchens by thousands of units, including units in airports. Newer brands, like 800 Degrees Go and Sam Nazarian's C3, have partnered with Reef alongside legacy QSR chains, like Wendy's, within the last two years. In December, the ghost kitchen company announced it was acquiring 2nd Kitchen, a virtual kitchens company focusing on hotel foodservice.